Yahya Hassan gives a cautious reading in Palestine

Under tight security and under the radar, the Danish-Palestinian poet took his verse to Bethlehem

Sit back and hope for the best (photo: istock)
June 2nd, 2014 2:56 pm| by admin
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Danish-Palestinian poet Yahya Hassan read some of his controversial poems at a small cafe in Bethlehem last Friday night. It was the poet’s first reading in Palestine, and also his first in English. Hassan’s reading was part of an ongoing Danish-Palestinian writing exchange, ‘Words Without Borders’. Last October, the group held an event at Copenhagen’s Black Diamond library, and over the weekend it took part in a Palestinian literature festival, PalFest .

Hassan’s reading took place a day before the event officially kicked off at a small venue near where, according to Christian tradition, the angels gave the shepherds the news of the birth of Jesus. Organisers insisted that there was no symbolism intended in the choice of location, and that the discreet location and invitation-only crowd were all chosen in line with recommendations made by the national intelligence agency, PET.

A quiet reading
Hassan's reading was not mentioned in the program listings along with the other authors presenting their works. PET deemed his appearance a security risk, so the media was prevented from mentioning his visit before the controversial poet was safely on his way back to Denmark.

Hassan’s poems about growing up in an atmosphere of violence and religious hypocrisy in Denmark, and his sharp attacks on Islam, have led to several threats and at least one physical assault in Denmark. His events in Denmark are always conducted under heavy security. Although neither his poetry nor the debate surrounding them has gained any traction in Palestine, organisers were afraid that radical religious groups would organise 'something' if they heard about Hassan’s visit.

READ MORE: Continued death threats against poet

There was some eye-rolling and angry murmuring among the audience at Hassan’s Bethlehem reading, and the feeling was that his work would have created quite a stir if it had been read at a larger assembly.

Will a new structure help a waning Superliga? (photo: Froztbyte)
Two models emerging for future Superliga
The Dutch sports consultancy firm Hypercube has whittled its future model f...
Wozzie out early in France (photo: Danny Karwoski)
Sports News in Brief: Wozzie out early in French Open
Caroline Wozniacki has been knocked out of the 2015 French Open today by ...
Nationalpartiet is unhappy with the voter declaration processing (photo: Nationalpartiet)
New party blasts election process
PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt's decision to call for an election on June 18 has...
The town of Haderslev (photo: Hubertus)
Mayor of Haderslev gets a ‘nose’ for changing town sign
Hans Peter Geil, the mayor of Haderslev in southwestern Jutland, has receiv...
The Tesla Model S (photo: RogDel)
Luxury car owners in Denmark switching to electric Tesla
Did you think a luxury car was beyond your means? Not anymore thanks to the...
The Paternoster elevator can be tricky for the elderly to manoeuvre (photo: de:User:1621)
Elderly man killed in Axelborg elevator accident
An 80-year-old Danish man died yesterday afternoon in a tragic elevator acc...